Advice for someone wanting to build an e-commerce site... ?
November 7, 2007 2:01 PM   Subscribe

I've built plenty of websites. I've never built an e-commerce website. I generally use Dreamhost as a host and Expression Engine as a CMS. What's my next step for building an e-commerce site for a new client? Resources? Recommendations? etc. I'm in Canada if that makes a diff; products will ship world-wide.
posted by dobbs to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: EE has a Simple Commerce Module. Do you need more than it provides?
posted by crickets at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2007

A secure server, which you should be able to add to your Dreamhost setup.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:52 PM on November 7, 2007

Best answer: You need:
- A secure server as mentioned above
- A secure certificate - which is a big pain in the ass sometimes to get working right
- A payment gateway (the online equivalent of the thing they slide your credit card through)
- A merchant account (basically a bank account specifically tailored for receiving credit card transactions)

The payment gateway/merchant account thing can be handled via PayPal if you so prefer. It may not be the most cost effective method in the long term, but it's almost definitely the easiest because they can provide both sides for you.

The secure certificate can be purchased from many places. I go through Godaddy but to be honest their customer service on secure certs (through a company called Starfield Technologies) is absolutely ATROCIOUSLY bad.

OS Commerce and ZenCart are two open source e-Commerce packages.

A potential challenge is that a CMS is really an entirely different animal from an e-Commerce ("Shopping Cart") package, and there's nothing out there that I'm aware of that does both of these things well. However, if this new client just wants an online store and not a boatload of CMS-type content, you should be fine with either of the above.

You should also work to understand your client's "back office" business. How do they expect to process orders, get things shipped to customers, issue refunds? What kind of reporting do they expect as far as financial data from transactions on their website? Is integration with an external package like Quickbooks good enough?

There's a lot to think about. e-Commerce is a big animal and you're very, very likely to underestimate the amount of work that goes into giving the client everything they want if it's the first time you've done it.

That being said - hopefully the above helps, and best of luck to you!
posted by twiggy at 4:11 PM on November 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks!
posted by dobbs at 7:55 PM on November 7, 2007

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